Takeaways from the third Playoff poll of 2022
Well, that was somewhat uneventful.
Tuesday, that is. Not Saturday. Saturday was eventful.
On Saturday, we saw 3 Playoff contenders (Ole Miss, Oregon and UCLA) all suffer that dreaded second loss. It meant that they were essentially eliminated from the Playoff.
Unfortunately, though, there wasn’t going to be much drama in the Playoff poll on Tuesday. Why? Ole Miss and UCLA were outside of the top 10 last week and Oregon was at No. 6, so in all likelihood, we weren’t going to see any changes in the top 5.
We didn’t. Here was what the full Top 25 looked like:
And with that, here’s a look at your full #CFBPlayoff Top 25 for games played through Saturday, November 12.
— College Football Playoff (@CFBPlayoff) November 16, 2022
Here were my takeaways from Playoff poll No. 3:
1. Tennessee wasn’t going to leapfrog TCU
I was asked that question a couple times this week, and I had to refresh my memory about what we saw on Saturday. That is, TCU went on the road and beat a ranked Texas squad and held a high-powered Steve Sarkisian offense to a touchdown. Meanwhile, Tennessee beat up on a Mizzou team that’s just fighting for bowl eligibility. Yeah, after what we saw last week, of course the Vols were going to stay at No. 5.
I continue to maintain that Tennessee is in ideal position with the way things are shaping up, especially now that UCLA and Oregon suffered that second loss. TCU isn’t getting left out of the field as an unbeaten Power 5, but by virtue of being just 1 spot behind the Horned Frogs, yes, it’s safe to say they don’t have a loss to give.
And obviously, the Michigan-Ohio State loser won’t have as many quality wins as Tennessee. The Vols still have 5 wins against Power 5 teams with winning records. Georgia and Clemson are the only teams who can claim that. Michigan and Ohio State both have 3 apiece.
Tennessee will be locked into that No. 5 spot until further notice.
2. The most overrated contender in the poll was ___________.
It baffles me that the Trojans continue to get the benefit of the doubt as a 1-loss team with a best win of “at 3-loss Oregon State … by 3.” That’s also USC’s lone win against a current Playoff Top 25 team, which one would think would be a tough look for a squad who has just 2 wins against Power 5 teams with winning records.
But here we are, with USC continuing to climb in the rankings.
Is the schedule backloaded? Sure. At UCLA this weekend is followed by a home tilt against improving Notre Dame and then either a Pac-12 Championship rematch against Utah or a first-time showdown with Oregon. But it feels like the selection committee is factoring that into the current résumé, which doesn’t make sense.
Then again, why would rankings always make sense?
3. The most underrated contender in the poll was ___________.
I think it’s actually Clemson.
I’ve said for weeks that Clemson is shaping up to be a narrative team. If you’re pro-Clemson, you’ll point out the fact that no other contender has more wins against Power 5 teams with a winning record (5). And actually, with NC State sneaking into the CFP Top 25, Clemson has 2 wins against ranked foes.
If you’re anti-Clemson, you’ll point out the fact that the best win was a 1-score game at 3-loss Florida State. The blowout loss at Notre Dame certainly didn’t help, and neither did the fact that the ACC appears to be the weakest conference in America.
At this point, I’m a bit more pro-Clemson than anti-Clemson, especially if we’re talking about a comparison to USC or even 2-loss Alabama, who only have 1 win apiece against the current CFP Top 25.
4. Let the 1-loss debates begin
These are the teams who can still make the field with 1 loss:
- Ohio State
With all due respect to UNC, who doesn’t have a win against a current CFP Top 25 team, I think the selection committee is telling us about that résumé by still leaving the Tar Heels outside of the top 10 this late into the process. I also believe that a 1-loss TCU wouldn’t make the field because of how late that blemish would occur. For a team sitting at No. 4 currently, those quality wins can only go so far when every other Big 12 team currently has 3 losses.
Georgia is the only team who is set up to have a Playoff spot clinched heading into conference championship weekend, though obviously an unbeaten Michigan/Ohio State winner would be in an ideal spot, as well. The loser of that game, however, is going to know exactly where they stand compared to Tennessee with that final Tuesday ranking before conference championship weekend.
And what about Clemson & USC? They’re in different spots because Clemson doesn’t have nearly as many quality opportunities left on the schedule. Would running the table against Miami, South Carolina and UNC vault Clemson 5 spots in these final 3 weeks? My guess is no. At least not without chaos. I said last week that I think the Tigers are toast.
I’m still of the belief that USC still needs to not only run the table with 3 challenging games ahead, but it’ll also need some help by a TCU loss, an LSU loss and perhaps even a blowout loss for either Michigan or Ohio State in that regular-season finale.
Whatever the case, the 1-loss arguments are all over the place heading into the home stretch.